Friday's NCAA tournament games

A game-by-game look at Friday's second-round matchups.

March 15, 2012|Wire services
  • Texas center Clint Chapman, left, drives around teammate Andrew Dick during a practice session Thursday. Texas will play Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
Texas center Clint Chapman, left, drives around teammate Andrew Dick during… (Mark Humphrey / Associated…)

East Region

No. 6 Cincinnati (24-10) vs. No. 11 Texas (20-13), 9:15 a.m. PDT, Channel 2: Neither team is all that proficient offensively, but both play solid defense. Cincinnati's physical nature could bother Texas. The Longhorns need a big offensive game from guard J'Covan Brown. If he struggles, Texas has no chance. And if he is on, Texas needs someone up front to produce some points. Texas has been a good rebounding team, and that must continue. Cincinnati's poor free-throw shooting could play a role in a close game.

No. 3 Florida State (24-9) vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure (20-11), 11:45 a.m., Channel 2: Florida State struggled early, then turned things around; the Seminoles were 2-0 against North Carolina and 2-1 against Duke this season, and beat them back to back to win the ACC tournament for the first time. Florida State is athletic and physical up front, and defense remains the Seminoles' calling card. St. Bonaventure won the Atlantic 10 tournament as the fourth-seeded team, and for the Bonnies to make this interesting, they have to get a big game from senior forward Andrew Nicholson, who came up huge in the league tournament. The Bonnies generally do well on the boards, but that seems too much to ask against the Seminoles. Florida State can be extremely sloppy with the ball, so that bears watching.

South Region

No. 2 Duke (27-6) vs. No. 15 Lehigh (26-7), 4:15 p.m., Channel 2: Lehigh played two NCAA tournament teams and lost by nine to both (Iowa State and Michigan State). The Mountain Hawks have a genuine mid-major star in junior guard C.J. McCollum, who tore up Kansas in a first-round loss in 2010. He obviously must come up big if Lehigh is to keep this close. Also important is the performance of forward Gabe Knutson, whose production is vital if Lehigh is to have any offensive balance. The Plumlee brothers could be more productive than usual for Duke, which enjoys a decided size advantage.

No. 7 Notre Dame (22-11) vs. No. 10 Xavier (21-12), 6:30 p.m., Channel 2: Notre Dame overachieved and Xavier underachieved during the regular season. The Irish faded down the stretch. Did they peak too early or were they simply tired? The Irish are not a gifted offensive team, and they seem to relish ugly, grind-it-out games. Guard Eric Atkins is a solid three-point threat, and guard Jerian Grant can get hot from beyond the arc. But the Irish need forward Jack Cooley to play well if they are going to win. Xavier guard Tu Holloway is quick and needs to be a good penetrator in this game; at times, he becomes too enamored with his perimeter game. The Musketeers need senior center Kenny Frease to show up and for guard Mark Lyons to knock down some three-pointers.

Midwest Region

No. 6 San Diego State (26-7) vs. No. 11 North Carolina State (22-12), 9:30 a.m., truTV: N.C. State has some talented offensive players, with five guys averaging in double figures, but the Wolfpack's defense frequently is lax. The Wolfpack has an advantage in the frontcourt and need forwards C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell to take advantage. San Diego State is all about its deep backcourt, and N.C. State could have problems with swingman Jamaal Franklin, the Mountain West player of the year.

No. 8 Creighton (28-5) vs. No. 9 Alabama (21-11), 10:30 a.m., TBS: Alabama can be quite ugly on offense, but the Crimson Tide generally plays lockdown defense. Creighton is an excellent offensive team (80.0 ppg, 50.9 FG%) but frequently is lax on defense. Creighton's key guy is forward Doug McDermott, who is incredibly efficient on offense (23.2 ppg, 61.0 FG%, 49.5 3-pt FG%, 79.9 FT%). What will the Tide do to slow him? Look for Alabama to get the ball to JaMychal Green, who should be effective against Creighton's frontcourt. If Green is stymied, the Tide is in trouble; it shoots an unsightly 28.5% from three-point range.

No. 3 Georgetown (23-8) vs. No. 14 Belmont (27-7), noon, truTV: Belmont hasn't played a team that made the NCAA field since its first two games of the season, but the upperclassmen-dominated Bruins are a good three-point shooting team (37.8%) — though how many good looks they get against the defense-minded Hoyas is a big question. Belmont must get production from centers Scott Saunders and Mick Hedgepeth, who combine to average 20.0 points and 10.8 rebounds. Georgetown enjoys a big size advantage, and the Hoyas need to make sure Henry Sims and Otto Porter get the ball often in the low post. Belmont does a good job forcing turnovers and wants a fast pace, while the Hoyas would prefer to keep this one in the 60s.

No. 1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. No. 16 Vermont (24-11), 1 p.m., TBS: Vermont isn't that big and isn't that athletic. North Carolina is big and athletic, and basically is playing a home game. Vermont has given up more than 70 points only four times this season; North Carolina averages 82..

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